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Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia intensifies

Teachers have humiliated Jehovah’s Witness children in front of their classmates. Arsonists have burned Witnesses’ homes. Security forces have raided their meeting halls.Since the Russian Supreme Court on April 20 declared the Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist group, its members have faced increasing harassment from both authorities and suspicious neighbors.And last week, for the first time since the decision, a Jehovah’s Witness has been not only detained by police, but jailed by a judge.“He read the Bible. That’s why he was arrested,” said Yaroslav Sivulskiy, a representative of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in St. Petersburg.For about a month the Witnesses had not felt the full force of the court decision, which calls for the liquidation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization — not only its Russian headquarters in St. Petersburg, but the 400 or so Kingdom Halls where more than 100,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses across the nation meet.

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